I have an adorable short story to tell you about my parents, who met in high school and then went to university together. They were in the same program, and for a time they lived in a house that my grandfather had purchased. They were both completely penniless, and spent a decent amount of time cooking at home on a student budget rather than spending a bunch of money eating out every week. Needless to say, they made sure I knew at least two recipes when I was about to strike out on my own as a University of Ottawa student. So here’s my take on some of my parents’ budget-friendly recipes that should make cooking from home a joy.

Creole franks on rice

Basically a poor man’s jambalaya, this is an easy rice dish that you can make in under 40 minutes. For a serving of four you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) of basmati rice
  • 1 and ½ cups (375 ml) of water
  • ¼ tsp. (1 ml) of salt
  • 1 can (796 ml) of diced tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 package (400 grams) of hot dogs
  • 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of vegetable oil (canola oil)
  • 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of hot sauce of choice (I recommend Frank’s RedHot)

Combine salt and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add rice, stir once, reduce the heat to low and cover.

Let simmer for 15 minutes. If you’re using a different kind of rice, follow the cooking instructions on the package.

Meanwhile, slice the hot dogs and yellow onion. Heat oil in a large frying pan, then add sliced hot dogs and yellow onion. Toss until onions are soft and hot dogs are lightly browned.

Mix in the cooked rice, the diced tomatoes, and the hot sauce in the large frying pan. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Crêpes

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Photo: CC, Negative Space Design.

Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert, these thin French pancakes are cheap and easy to make. For four servings of my father’s crêpe recipe you will need the following:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) of white flour
  • 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of sugar
  • ¼ tsp. (1 ml) of table salt
  • 1 ½ cup (375 ml) of milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. (8 ml) of vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in medium mixing bowl. Stir in milk, eggs, and vanilla with a whisk. Be careful not to leave any lumps in the batter.

Warm up a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Grease skillet with vegetable oil. Spread a thin layer of batter onto the skillet, about one ladle’s worth.

When batter is bubbling through and edges are browning, delicately turn over with a spatula. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat until batter is exhausted.

While the remaining crêpes are cooking, you can place the ready crêpes in the oven at 200 °F (90 °C) to keep warm.

Serve with your favourite topping. My parents usually go for whipped cream, frozen strawberries, and maple syrup.